Interesting Things

By Ray L. Bellande

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19th Century White Education

 

With our highly respected public school system of today in place, it is appropriate to reflect into the past and observe how education evolved at Ocean Springs from its conception in the 19th Century.  This article investigates the white educational system only, as the public schools were segregated in Mississippi, until the late 1960s.  Several articles, “Early Black Education in Ocean Springs”, were presented in this column on November 16 and November 23, 1995.  It also will not relate about the parochial school system developed in the Roman Catholic Parish of St. Alphonsus de Liguori.

            Ever since Mississippi became a State of the Union in December 1817, public education has been an important part of legislative matters.  During the term of Governor Albert Gallatin Brown from 1844-1848, whose personal platform advocated the “establishment of schools in which every poor white child in the country may secure, free of charge, the advantages of a liberal education”, the first effective common school law was enacted.(Dabney, 1936, p. 344)

It was educator Frederick A.P. Barnard (1809-1889), a native of Massachusetts, who was a professor, president and chancellor of the University of Mississippi from 1854 to 1861, that evoked the doctrine that in order to have adequate common schools, an educational system must first develop good colleges.

           The Civil War disrupted Barnard’s promising career in improving Mississippi’s educational attitude, but he went on to become president of Columbia College at New York City.  Barnard College, the woman’s undergraduate division of Columbia College, was named for him in 1890.(Ibid., p. 350 and The Columbia Encyclopedia, 1963, p. 167) 

During Reconstruction, the Mississippi legislature passed a comprehensive school law on July 4, 1870, which established a state superintendent of education, local school boards, and county superintendents of education.  This statue also stated : “All the children of this state, between the ages of five and twenty-one years, shall have, in all respects, equal advantages in the public schools.”  Thus Black children were granted the right to a common education which they had been denied prior to the Civil War.(Ibid., p. 353)  By 1875, there were 89,800 black and 78,400 white students attending public schools in the Magnolia State.(McKee, 1995, p. 119)

            The public education system in place today was established by James Rhea Preston (b. 1853), an educator from Virginia.  He came to Mississippi in 1875, and taught in north Mississippi schools until his election as State Superintendent of Education in 1885.  Under Superintendent Preston, the State school system was vastly improved, especially as regards to white teacher education and examination. (Dabney, 1936, pp. 354-355)             

 

1850

            The 1850 Federal Census at Ocean Springs indicates that there were two teachers residing in the vicinity of Ocean Springs.  They were Herman Bailey (1822-1850+) of New Hampshire and Samuel Thompson (1805-1850+), a native of New York.  It appears that they were living between Gautier and Ocean Springs and one of them may have been associated with common school held at the Tidewater Baptist Church near Davis Bayou, which had been organized circa 1832, by Elder George Davis and Thomas C. Hunt. (Schmidt, 1972, p. 82)

 

1855

            The Ocean Springs Gazette, a local journal of which one issue from March 1855 survives in the public library, related that there were two boarding schools here at this time.  They were the Ocean Springs Academy for males and the LaFontaine Hill Seminary for girls.  E.K. Washington, the editor of The Gazette, was also the principal of the Ocean Springs Academy.(Schmidt, 1972, p. 36)

 

1860

            The 1860 Federal Census at Ocean Springs indicates that Hortense Tiffin (1841-1870+), a Louisiana born teenager, was a teacher here.  Miss Tiffin was the daughter of Belle Miller Conklin Tiffin (1824-1900) and Dr. Clayton Tiffin (ca 1784-1859) of New Orleans.  The Tiffins were the proprietors of the present day Shearwater Pottery parcel, and they made their summer residence in the Ashley home fronting Biloxi Bay.  Later, Hortense Tiffin married Jean M. Delavallade of Plaquemine, Iberville Parish, Louisiana.(The Ocean Springs Record, January 19, 1995, p. 18)

            Another 1860 educator, L.A. Ward, was probably at the Tidewater Baptist Church educational facility as he resided with Samuel Davis (1804-1879) near the Stark family.  Samuel Davis was the husband of Elvira Ward (1821-1901).

 

1870-1880

Information concerning the public school system at Ocean Springs, during this decade is scarce.  The 1936-1937 WPA survey of Jackson County relates that initial efforts to educate the youth of Ocean Springs were given to Harry Herrin (1842-1880+), a native of Georgia.  He was married to a Mississippi lady, Mary Herring (1847-1880+), who was the mother of their infant son, Edwin Lee Herring (1869-1870+).   Mr. Herrin conducted a three-month school on Washington Avenue in a small wooden structure.  His pupils sat on back-less benches and worked from crude desks, which were long pine planks fastened to the walls.(1870 Federal Census-JXCO, Ms.  and WPA For Ms.  Historical Data-JXCO, Ms.: 1936-1937, p. 277)

Professor Jones educated classes here for three months in 1872.  No school session was held at Ocean Springs in 1873 or 1875.  Judge Harry H. Minor (1837-1884) taught in 1874 and 1876 under the same primitive conditions.  Some of the students during this pioneer era were: Charlotte Franco Cochran (1864-1939), Marie Soden von Rosambeau (1857-1939), A.J. Catchot (1864-1954), and John J. Franco. (1859-1935). (WPA For Ms.  Historical Data-JXCO, Ms.: 1936-1937, p. 277)

 

1874

            In October 1874, the local citizenry became incensed with Jackson County elected officials, primarily the County School Superintendent, Tax Collector, and Treasurer.  At a large public meeting held in late October, it was alleged that these officials were misappropriating and not providing Ocean Springs with its equitable share from the County School Fund.  An organization to take control and manage local school funds was formed.  John Egan (1827-1875) was elected permanent chairman, M.S. Park (1846-1880+), secretary, and Joseph Simmons (1824-1886) and Alfred Ryan (1827-1880+), vice presidents.  Chairman Egan appointed a two-man committee, H.H. Minor and William Ames (1848-1922), to draft resolutions expressing the sentiments of the people, which demanded of the County, its portion of the School Fund and the accountability of those County officials in charge of the school money.(The Star of Pascagoula, November 7, 1874, ,p.2)

 

The Tidewater Public School

It is known with a high degree of certitude that the Tidewater Public School existed in the vicinity of Davis Bayou in the 1870s.  It was situated three miles east of Ocean Springs and was held in the Tidewater Baptist Church.  In 1871 and 1872, a four-month school session was taught here by Miss Martha Bradford (1842-1887) and Sherwood Bradford (1838-1922) respectively.  They were the children of Lyman Bradford (1803-1858) and Cynthia Davis (1813-1887).  E.S. Davis (1859-1925), the proprietor of  E.S. Davis & Sons, the successor to The Davis Brothers’ mercantile store on Washington Avenue, was a student here at this time.(WPA For Ms.  Historical Data-JXCO, Ms.: 1936-1937, pp. 277-278)

In the spring of 1875, classes were held here under the auspices of Captain A. C. Burton (d. 1875), a native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  Burton was a new arrival here, but unfortunately passed on in November 1875.  His wife was in Bolivar County, Mississippi, at the time of his demise.(The Star of Pascagoula, November 20, 1875, p. 4)

Closing ceremonies were held at the Tidewater Public School in early May 1875.  Jenny Clark was honored as May Queen.  Her royal court consisted of: Mary Watson, Evie Clark, Nancy Moore, Isabella Armstrong, Addie Clark, and Josephine Morris.  Other students participating in the final school year program were: Edward Ward, Olivia Clark, Frank Ayres, and William Bilbo.  Colonel Redmond, M.S. Park, and J.E. Clark assisted Captain Burton with the program which included a picnic and baseball game.(The Star of Pascagoula, May 8, 1875, p. 2) 

 

1880-1890

            It appears that during this decade, education at Ocean Springs became more consistent.  The modus operandi of the public school system was to have at least a winter term of four months.  Teachers could operate private schools at their discretion.        

 

1880

The 1880 Federal Census taken at Ocean Springs indicates that there were         forty-seven students in school here.  Their family names were: Brassert, Catchot, Cessor, Dunlap, Eglin, Franco, Galle, Huke, Illing, Mathieu, Poitevent, Rickey, Ryan, Seidenstricker, Sheldon, Staples, Taylor, VanCleave, Webb, and White.  The teacher could not be ascertained.

 

1881

     In 1881, a Mrs. Emma P. Young came to Ocean Springs from Edwards, Mississippi, to operate a private learning facility.She was a graduate of the Central Female Institute at Clinton, Mississippi.  Mrs. Young planned to open her school on September 25th, 1881.  Her credentials related that she was well qualified to teach all branches of English, music, Latin, French, and higher grades.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, September 23, 1881, p. 3)

     Mrs. Young advertised in The Pascagoula Democrat-Star on September 30th, 1881, as follows:

 

OCEAN SPRINGS HIGH SCHOOL

            The undersigned, a regular graduate, and a successful teacher of several years experience in some of the best schools of the State, would respectfully announce to the general public that she has opened a school at Ocean Springs, Miss., where instruction will be given in all the branches usually taught in our schools, together with music.  Students may also receive special instruction in penmanship.  It will be the aim to make it a first-class school in every respect.  Ocean Springs is a healthy place, and board as reasonable as at other schools.

 

1882

No information.

 

1883

            The Pascagoula Democrat-Star announced in late February that Mrs. Foster and Mrs. Forstall are in charge of the four months public school for white children.  Last year the Negroes had access to this educational opportunity.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, February 23, 1883, p. 3)  In September 1879, Mr. W.H. Foster is the Sunday School superintendent at Seashore Camp Ground.(The New Orleans Christian Advocate, September 25, 1879)

            Emily Foster McCall lost her husband, educator C.R. McCall, Professor of Languages at the State Normal in Troy, Alabama, in August 1898.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, may 19, 1899, p. 3)

 

1884

            Leon Dieschbourg (1842-1880+), a native of Holland, was the teacher at Ocean Springs in the spring of 1884.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, May 16, 1884, p. 3)  He had previously been a school master in Harrison County, where he taught at the Oak Ridge School (1878), Howard Creek (1879), and Back Bay-Big Ridge (1879-1880).

(HARCO School Register 1874-1885, pp. 18-35)

 

1885

No information.

 

1886

            In the winter term of 1885-1886, D.D. Cowan, principal and Mrs. L.Y. Westerfeldt, assistant taught classes in the free white school at Ocean Springs.  Average attendance for these daily sessions was sixty-five pupils.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, February 19, 1886, p. 2)

 

1888-1889

            In the winter term of 1888-1889, Decatur D. Cowan (1850-1929) taught 65 students at Ocean Springs: forty-one male and twenty-four female.  There were 200 educable children here at this time.(Ocean Springs School Register, Winter 1888-1889, JXCO, Ms. Archives, Pascagoula, Ms.)  In 1892, Mr. Cowan would  become the first Mayor of Ocean Springs.  He also served as School Superintendent of Jackson County from 1896-1905.

 

1890-1900

            The last decade of the 19th Century saw much progress in education at Ocean Springs.  The student population increased rapidly during this period.  A schoolhouse erected in 1891, had to be replaced by a larger structure in 1900.  Some of this growth was the result of students from outlying areas who boarded in the community to acquire an education.  Private schools and summer school sessions were common.

            The Ocean Springs School District was known as No. 43 in the County nomenclature.  Its geographic area encompassed Sections 19, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29, 33, 34, and 37 of T7S-R8W.

School registers maintained by teachers during this period, indicate that some of the families who sent their children to the public school during this decade were: Ames, Armstrong, Baird, Beaugez, Bellman, Benezue, Beyer, Bird, Bishop, Bland, Boes, Bradford, Breakfield, Buehler, Burton, Byrd, Carco, Carver, Carter, Casey, Catchot, Chusman, Clark, Cochran, Colligan, Collins, Colvin, Cooley, Covington, Cowan, Cox, Cubbage, Culver, Davis, Delcuze, Dick, Dolbear, Domning, Dunden, Eagan, Eglin, Ellis, Evans, Fayard, Franco, Freeman, Friar, Garic, Gilly, Goodier, Gwartney, Haviland, Heitzman, Hellmer, Hopkins, Hopper, Hultzman, Illing, Jenkins, Joachim, Johnson, Joiner, Ladnier, Lowd, Madison, Maxwell, McClure, McDaniels, McKie, Miller, Moore, Mons, Morris, Motor, Myer, Newcomb, Nill, Orrell, Pabst, Partridge, Phelps, Phillip, Putter, Ramsay, Raymond, Redmon, Reed, Reus, Richards, Rippy, Rooney, Rosambeau, Roquevelt, Russell, Ruta, Ryan, Seaman, Seymour, Siegerson, Smith, Soden, Soule, Starks, Thomas, Tillman, Toche, Turner, VanCleave, VanCourt, VanHoven, Vaughan, Walker, West, Westbrook, White, Wickay, Wilson, Wiggington, Witt, Woodcock, and Young.     

 

A 19th Century Classroom at Ocean Springs

(courtesy of Jack Gottsche from the Gottsche family archives)

 

1890-1891

            Miss Fernanda Wolff, was the principal and teacher.  When her tenure here was completed, she left Ocean Springs and went to live at Boston, Massachusetts, with her sister, Miss Minna Wolff.  Minna Wolff studied medicine at Boston in the mid-1890s.  When Minna returned to Boston in September 1895, to resume her medical education, she sailed to New York from New Orleans on the S.S. Louisiana.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, September 13, 1895, p. 3)

In November 1894, John F. Muller, Miss Fernanda’s nephew, visited with her, her mother, Mrs. C. Wolff, and the other Wolff siblings at Ocean Springs.  Young Muller had just returned from the goldfields of Nicarauga and was in transit to his home at San Antonio, Texas.(The Pascagoula Democrat Star, November 23, 1894, p. 3)

In October 1898, after Fernanda Wolff had left for Boston, she and Minna Wollf were joined by their mother and sister, Miss Lou Wolff, reuniting the family once again.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, September 30, 1898, p.3)

            In 1925, Fernanda E. Wolff, a resident of Newton, Massachusetts, donated two items to the St. John’s Episcopal Church.  They were: a sterling silver alms box and a sterling silver bread box.  These memorial to her mother, a founder of the 1892 church, were to be dedicated on All Saints’ Day, November 1, 1925.(The Daily Herald, October 27, 1925, p. 1)

The winter term of 1890-1891 commenced in November 1890 and ended in February 1891.  There were fifty-three students in attendance-26 male and 27 female.  At this time, Ocean Springs had 213 children eligible for an education, indicating that only 24% of the educable children were in the classroom.(1890-1891 School Register, JXCO, Ms. Archives, Pascagoula, Ms.)         

 

1891-1892

            Professor D.D. Cowan returned to Ocean Springs for the winter term of 1891-1892.  Among the subjects he taught his ninety students were: arithmetic, composition, geography, grammar, history, reading, physics, and spelling.  The educable student population here this school year was 198 children.  Mr. D.D. Cowan closed the term of the public school on March 4, 1892, with a successful entertainment.(1891-1892 School Register, JXCO, Ms. Archives, Pascagoula, Ms. and The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, March 11, 1892, p. 2)

 

THE 1891 PUBLIC SCHOOL

In mid-March 1891, The Biloxi Herald in its “Ocean Springs” news column related that civic leadership was needed to organize the citizenry and erect a schoolhouse for the coming school year at Ocean Springs.  It admonished the town to get an immediate start and utilize the resources and assistance of the summer residents.(The Biloxi Herald, March 21, 1891, p.5)

 

Ocean Springs Fire Company No. 1 Land Donation

In late April 1891, the membership of the Ocean Springs Fire Company No. 1 was persuaded by George W. Davis (1842-1914) to donate a lot in the rear of their firehouse for the construction of a schoolhouse.  Their firehouse was situated in Block 3-Lot 18 of the Clay Strip on the eastside of Washington Avenue.  Lot 18 had a 100-foot front on Washington Avenue and ran east for about 225 feet.  The Senior Citizens building is situated here today.  The firehouse of Ocean Springs Fire Company No. 1 and several residences, including the Vahle House, a small hostel on the northwest corner of Washington and Calhoun, were destroyed in the Great Fire of November 1916, when it swept down Washington Avenue from Porter Street to the southwest corner of Calhoun.(The Jackson County Times, November 18, 1916, p. 1)

On May 9, 1891, Joseph Kotzum (1842-1915), president of Fire Company No. 1, conveyed to George W. Davis, David W. Halstead (1842-1918), and Newcomb Clark (1836-1913), Trustees of the Ocean Springs Public School, a lot of land from the eastern end of their property to erect a public school building for white children.  The donation parcel was 100 feet wide and 70 feet in length.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 12, pp. 397-398)

In addition to Joseph Kotzum, other officers of Fire Company No.1 were: James Colligan (1855-1905), vice pres.; F.M. Dick (1857-1922), sec.; William Lorenzen (1844-1910+), treas.; George H. Tardy (1839-1902), foreman; I.W. Simmons (1867-1919), 1st asst. foreman; Frank Franco (1871-1935), 2nd asst. foreman; and Daniel J. Richards (1857-1892), steward.  Active members of the company were: George Birdrow (1865-1923), Richard White II, E.S. Davis (1859-1925), Joseph A. Catchot (1861-1927), Eugene Davis, Beauregard Ryan (1860-1928), J. Trosclair, Jacob Martin (1844-1926), A.P. Kotzum (1871-1916), E.M. Westbrook (1858-1913), John Beaugez (1857-1913), Jules Rupple, Andrew Buehler (1859-1939), Louis Westbrook, Frank De Bourgh (1876-1954+), and Antonio J. Catchot (1864-1954).  Exempt members were: Leonard Fayard (1847-1923), Louis Dolbear (1855-1919), Augustin von Rosambeau (1849-1912), L.C. Cooley, John D. Minor (1863-1920), D. Seymour, Narcisse Seymour (1849-1931), Antoine Ryan, Louis Ryan (1837-1909), Joseph De Bourgh (1841-1940), and Edmond Mon (1843-1920).  Honorary members were: George W. Davis (1842-1914), W.B. Schmidt (1823-1901), F.M. Weed (1850-1926), Jules Galle (1843-1922), and R.L. Phelps.(The Biloxi Herald, April 25, 1891, p. 1)

 

The Public New School

            With the land donation in hand, aspirations for a public school building at Ocean Springs were high.  Miss Fernanda Wolff who had taught the public school at Ocean Springs in the winter of 1891, in a highly accomplished and efficient manner, raised funds for the school house, by giving “entertainments” to augment private donations for the building.  The “Reporter” for The Pascagoula Democrat-Star related that “Miss Wolff deserves great credit and has thanks of our community for her untiring efforts to make her entertainments financially successful for the benefit of the school house fund”.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, May 15, 1891, p. 2)

            In early September 1891, patrons of the public school elected Joseph Bourgh (pronounced Bush) (1845-1940), H.F. Russell (1858-1940), and George H. Tardy (1839-1902) as trustees for the new scholastic year.  There was a large turn out at the polls, and the ballots cast for school trustees was the largest ever, which demonstrated an awakening of interest in education at Ocean Springs.  L.N. Bradford (1851-1894) was awarded the contract for the construction of the new school and planned to have it ready for the winter academic session.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, September 11, 1891, p. 2)

Work on the new schoolhouse progressed intermittently in the fall of 1891.  By mid-November, it appeared that construction would be completed before Christmas 1891.( The Pascagoula Democrat-StarNovember 13, 1891, p. 2)             

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star announced in early January 1892, that, “The new school house has been occupied by a full school, and Ocean Springs is proud of it”.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, January 8, 1892, p. 2)

            The 1893 Sanborn Insurance Map of Ocean Springs indicates that the completed 1891 school building was a rather simple, two-story frame structure with an area of approximately 2000 square-feet.(Sanborn Insurance Map, 1898-Sheet 2)

 

1892-1893

            At their Special Meeting of May 16, 1893, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen decided to use the Public School building as the Town Hall of Ocean Springs.  The Mayor’s court and board meetings were also scheduled to be held here.  In September1893, the Public School house was rented by the Town Board to Professor D.D. Cowan for $2.50 per month for private school instruction.(TOS Minute Book Sept. 19, 1892 to Dec. 11, 1899, p. 39 and p. 47)

            Professor Decatur D. Cowan (1850-1929) taught the winter school term at Ocean Springs.  He was assisted by Florence Morrow (1868-1936) and Celeste Delmas of Scranton.  The local school system had one hundred-twenty eight pupils-66 male and 62 female.  There were 245 students eligible for a public education here at this time.  Mr. Cowan lectured primarily on these subjects: arithmetic, composition, geography, grammar, history, physics, reading, and spelling.(Ocean Springs School Register 1892-1893, JXCO, Ms. Archives, Pascagoula, Ms. and Ellison, 1991, p. 46)

 

Teacher Spotlight

Dwight Decatur Cowan

            Decatur Douglas Cowan (1850-1929) was born July 2, 1850, at Handsboro, Harrison County, Mississippi.  He was the son of Irish immigrant, Robert Clifton Cowan, and M.A. Greaves, a South Carolinian.  At Handsboro, Robert Cowan owned a mercantile store.  Before the Civil War, he donated land to Harrison County where Cowan Road was built.(Ellison, 1991, p. 43)

            Young Decatur D. Cowan was educated at Handsboro High School, and received a teaching certificate from Mississippi College also at Handsboro.  His first teaching post was in a one-room public school in the Woolmarket community.  According to his daughter, Elizabeth Cowan Grishman (b. 1914), Mr. Cowan would run from Biloxi to Woolmarket each day.  While an instructor in the Harrison County public school system, Cowan was elected to the state legislature.  He served during the 1884-1888 term. (Grishman, April 26, 1994 and The History of JXCO, Ms., 1989, p. 174))

             At Woolmarket, D.D. Cowan met Lillian Louise Grayson (1862-1892).  She was the daughter of Thomas William Grayson (1825-1904) and Anne Hyde (1832-1906).  Grayson was a merchant and had named the Biloxi River community in which he resided, "Woolmarket", because of its activity in the raising of sheep and the shipping of wool.  Thomas Grayson would become the fourth Mayor of Ocean Springs in 1897.  D.D. Cowan married Lilly Grayson on August 31, 1879.(Ibid. p. 174)

             Circa 1891, the Cowans moved to Ocean Springs where Mr. Cowan taught school and was elected the first Mayor of the recently incorporated town in December 1892.  He became known as "Professor D.D."  At this time there were five Cowan children:  Robert C. Cowan (d. 1945), Mary Ella C. Holman, Desiree C. Shepherd, Carrie Thorne C. Lang (1890-1978), and Decatur D. Cowan II (1891-1965).  Sadly, Mrs. Lilly Cowan died here in July 1892.  Her remains were interred in the Thomas W. Grayson family plot in the Evergreen Cemetery.(Ibid., p. 174)

             

The 1895 Election

            In the July 6, 1895 Democratic primary, Dwight D. Cowan faced Samuel H. Shannon of Cross Roads and R.L. Bullard for the position of Jackson County Superintendent of Education.  He garnered 770 votes out of the 1719 cast, but did not gain a majority, which forced a run-off election with Mr. Shannon in late July 1865.  Professor Cowan defeated his opponent in the second Democratic primary and had no opposition for the office in the general election held on November 5, 1895.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, July 12, 1895, p. 2 and November 15, 1895, p. 2)

            Before taking office in January 1896, Mr. Cowan managed the mercantile store of M.D. Russell, a land speculator from Iowa.  His father was Doctor D.P. Russell, a veterinarian, who resided at Belle Fontaine.  They were involved with Colonel W.R. Snyder (1864-1918) of the Fruitland farm on Old Fort Bayou in local land speculation.  The three men were alleged partners in the sale of the A.E. Lewis Estate, a small portion, which had been the St. Cyr Seymour homestead, to the John B. Lyon (1829-1904) family of Chicago. A portion of the A.E. Lewis tract became known as the R.W. Hamill Farm in the Fontainebleau area.(JXCO, Miss. Chancery Court Cause No. 413, "Snyder v. Russell", June 1890)

 

A New Family

In 1902, at Scranton, D.D. Cowan married Mary Hermina Jonte, the daughter of Joseph H. Jonte and Mary Harriett Delmas.  Five children were born of this union: William M. Cowan, Morris J. Cowan, Walter G. Cowan, Mary Elizabeth C. Grishman (1914-2002), and Isabella Cowan who died as an infant.(The History of JXCO, Ms., 1989, p. 174)

                       

A New Career

Professor Cowan resigned his position as Jackson County School Superintendent on May 5, 1905.  He returned to his childhood haunts of Mississippi City-Handsboro and became employed with the Equitable Life Insurance Company.  Cowan's work took him to many small South Mississippi communities such as, Bond, Caesar, and Sumrall.  He once was an employee of the Dantzler Lumber Company.     In 1916, D.D. Cowan returned to the field of Education.  He served as the principal of the Advance Consolidated and Fernwood Schools, and taught at Mississippi City and Handsboro.(Ellison, 1991, pp. 58-59)

            Our first elected Mayor, Decatur Douglas Cowan, throughout his long life continued to show an interest in good government and politics.  He passed on at Mississippi City on January 23, 1929.  Mrs. Cowan died in January 1930. Both were interred at Gulfport, Mississippi.

 

1893-1894

The school term at Ocean Springs in 1893-1894 was held from November until late February.  D.D. Cowan was in charge and was to be assisted by Miss Florence Morrow and Cleo Witt.  Unfortunately, Miss Witt was tardy for her board examinations and did not qualify to teach.  Miss May Skehan (1863-1922) was appointed to replace her.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, November 3, 1893, p. 3, November 10, 1893, p. 3, and November 17, 1893, p. 3)

Initial attendance at the public school was seventy-two regular pupils, which would increase to one hundred twenty-one by the end of the school term.  Of the final enrollment, there were 79 male and 42 female.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, November 10, 1893, p. 2 and Ocean Springs School Register 1893-1894, JXCO Archives, Pascagoula, Ms.)

            Professor Cowan completed his enumeration of eligible white students in the Ocean Springs School District in late November.  His survey indicated just over three hundred children who should be in the public school.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, December 1, 1893, p. 3)

            When the school term was completed, D.D. Cowan opened his private school in early March 1894.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, March 9, 1894, p. 3)

 

1894-1895

            Of the 298 educable children at Ocean Springs in the winter term of 1894-1895, which ran from November until February, one hundred and thirty-three pupils were enrolled.  Of this student population, seventy-four were male and fifty-nine were of the female gender.  Mr. D.D. Cowan and Miss May Skehan were their teachers.  The public school commenced in mid-November with seventy-five scholars in attendance.(Ocean Springs School Register 1894-1895, JXCO, Ms. Archives, Pascagoula, Ms. and The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, November 16, 1894, p. 3)

            In mid-March 1895, when the public school session recessed for the year, the teachers and students rejoiced and enjoyed a pleasant picnic at “Spanish Camp”.  The Coronet Band played for the festive occasion.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, March 22, 1895, p. 3)

At the cessation of his private school activities in late April 1895, Professor Cowan and his pupils celebrated the occasion with a picnic on the Tchoutica Bouffe (sic) River.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, May 10, 1895, p. 3)

Miss Fernanda Wolff had also taught a graded school which closed on May 31, 1895.  The scholarship medal was presented to Lillie Cochran (1881-1961); Jessie L. Carter was awarded the deportment medal; and honor roll recognition was obtained by: Abie Seymour, Florence Catchot (b. 1884), and Florence Richards.(The Pascagoula Democrat Star, June 7, 1895, p. 3)

 

1895-1896

            On September 16, 1895, Miss Fernanda Wolff opened her graded school, which must have been a private entity.  During the Yule Tide, she entertained them at her home.  The Christmas tree was the highlight of the festive gathering.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, September 13, 1895, p. 3 and January 3, 1896, p. 3)

The Ocean Springs public school opened on November 3, 1895 with Miss May Skehan (1863-1922) in charge.  She was assisted by Florence Canty.  The school population at this time was one hundred forty-80 male and 60 female.  This large enrollment necessitated the search for a second teaching assistant for Miss Skehan.  The curriculum consisted of: arithmetic, geography, grammar, history, language, Mississippi History, reading, and spelling.(Ocean Springs School Register 1895-1896, JXCO, Ms Archives, Pascagoula, Ms. and The Pascagoula Democrat-Star,  November 29, 1895, p. 3)

Additional school news for 1895, found that Miss Susie Vaughan had returned to her home at Ocean Springs from the Ebenezer School at Vancleave where she had been teaching the summer session.  She returned to take charge of a public school at Vancleave for the winter term of 1895-1896.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, September 13, 1895, p. 3 and November 8, 1895, p. 3)

            The School Trustees in Ocean Springs at this time were: J.L. Clark, F.M. Dick, and E.M. Westbrook.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, September 13, 1895, p. 3)

            The 1895-1896 public school year ended on May 26, 1896.  The citizens of Ocean Springs were pleased with the progress of their children in the public school.  Professor Beeman was the principal and Miss Susan Vaughan his able assistant.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, May 1, 1896, p. 3 and  June 5, 1896, p. 3)

 

1895-1896 Teacher Focus

Mary Agnes May Skehan

            Mary Agnes Skehan (1863-1922) was known as May to her family and friends.  She was born at Anamosa, Iowa, one of the five daughters of William Skehan (d. 1877) and Esther Hunt Fisher (1833-1918).  May Skehan was the sister-in-law of Franklin Sumner Earle (1856-1929), the son of Parker Earle (1831-1917) and Melanie Tracy (1837-1889).  Frank Earle ran the agricultural experimental station for Mississippi A&M College (now Mississippi State University) on the north bank of Old Fort Bayou.  He also worked with his entrepreneurial father, and brother, Charles T. Earle (1861–1901), on the large Earle Farm, which became later the Rose-Money Farm.  

            When Miss Skehan’s widowed mother, Esther, left the agrarian landscape of southern Illinois in 1889, to reside with her daughter, Susan Bedford Skehan Earle (1864-1891), at Ocean Springs, May Skehan came with her.  The F.S. Earle family lived in Gulf Hills in close proximity to the present day clubhouse.(The JXCOT, April 27, 1918, p. 5)

In an Earle family history titled, “The Ingredients To A Brave New Life Entering A Confused World”, by Melanie Earle Keiser (1889-1970), the following was related concerning her aunt, Miss May Skehan:

 

            Auntie May Skehan never married.  She was considered a fine primary teacher.  Many of the Back Bay Creoles of Ruth’s and my generation learned English from Auntie May.  The gentlest of women-but her eyes could turn to steel if her principles were concerned.  She had a most unyielding conscience.  She was merry, loved a joke, and lived her somewhat sterile life gaily.  A born reporter, she never made a trip to town that she did not see and hear remarkable things, which she dressed up on dramatic, spicy style and completely without malice.  She was so innocent a woman that she saw no evil.(Keiser, p. 4)

           

            Prior to Ocean Springs, Miss Skehan taught at the Big Ridge School situated in the SE/4 of the SW/4 of the NE/4 of Section 11, T7S-R9W.  Parker Earle had donated one acre of his real estate for this educational facility, in November 1890.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 13, p. 378)  The present day site of this former school is situated on Big Ridge Road about .78 miles west of its intersection with North Washington Avenue.

            After her mother passed in 1918, Miss Skehan resided with Lillian Staples Ryan (1850-1928+), a widowed teacher.  May Agnes Skehan left this world at Meridian, Mississippi on April 11, 1922.  Her funeral service was conducted at St. John’s Episcopal Church with burial in the Evergreen Cemetery on Old Fort Bayou.(The Daily Herald, April 15, 1922, p. 8)

 

1896-1897

            The 1896-1897 school year saw 186 potential scholars enroll in the Ocean Springs Public School, which ran from October 1896 until April 1897.  Of these pupils, 104 were male and 82 female.  They occupied three classrooms designated A, B, and C.  Principal John C. Leger was in charge and ably assisted by Cassandra “Caddie” Ramsay Lowd (1867-1937), Florence Morrow, and Susie Vaughan.  Subjects taught were: Arithmetic, civics, composition, geography, government, grammar, history, Mississippi History, physics, reading, and spelling.(Ocean Springs School Register 1896-1897, JXCO, Ms. Archives, Pascagoula, Ms and The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, September 25, 1896, p. 3)

            Olive Keith (1866-1896), a widow, who came to Ocean Springs from Illinois, joined the faculty after the term had commenced expired on November 20th.  Her spouse had passed at Biloxi circa 1891.  Mrs. Keith left two sons.  Her corporal remains were interred at Biloxi.  A school holiday was declared in respect to her memory.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, November 27, 1896, p. 3)

 

1896-1897 Teacher Highlight

Cassandra Ramsay Lowd

Cassandra “Caddie” Ramsay Lowd (1867-1937) was the daughter and eldest child of Enoch N. Ramsay (1832-1916) and Nancy Holder.  She was born at Georgetown, Alabama on August 13, 1867.  Miss Ramsay married Benjamin Franklin Lowd.  They had three children: Ethel Lowd (1889- 1978), Charles Ramsay Lowd (1891-1967), and Joseph Lowd.  Circa 1900, the Lowd family relocated from the Bayou Puerto area to Biloxi settling on Main Street.(The Daily Herald, August 18, 1937, p. 2)

            Miss Caddie Ramsay also taught at the Bayou Puerto School, which was located on a small lot (24 feet by 96 feet) in the northwest corner of Governmental Lot 3 of Section 13, T7S-R9W.  The present day site of this former school is on the south side of Le Moyne Boulevard about 350 feet east of Bayou Pines Drive.  William A. Seymour (1863-1939) donated the land for the Bayou Puerto school to the Jackson County School Board in March 1907.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 32, p. 280)

 

19th Century

 PRIVATE SCHOOLS

 

THE W. G. KENDALL SCHOOL

            William Gray Kendall (1812-1872) came to Carroll County, in north central Mississippi circa 1835, from Gallatin County, Kentucky where he was born on January 12, 1812.  After a basic frontier education, he matriculated to Transylvania University where he received a law degree in 1834.  At Carroll County, Mississippi, Kendall soon became active in law, politics, and community.  He was elected County attorney and colonel of the local militia.(NOLA City Directory, 1854, p.     ) 

In 1835, W.G. Kendall married Mary Philomela Irwin (1817-1878), the daughter of John Lawson Irwin and Martha Mitchell (1793-1831).  Mr. Irwin was at one time Speaker of the House of the Mississippi State legislature.  Mary P. Kendall was born on February 5, 1817 at the Puck-shonubbee Plantation, her father’s home, in Carroll County, Mississippi.  She died at Ocean Springs on January 17, 1878.(The Louisiana Historical Quarterly, Vol. 29, No. 4, April 1946, pp. 292-293)        

William Gray Kendall and his wife were the parents of nine children:  John I. Kendall (1841-1898) married Mary E. Smith; Anola Philomela Kendall (1843-1899); William Gray Kendall II (1847-1885); Kate Emma Kendall (1849-1897); Mary Lusk Kendall (1851-1902); Robert David Kendall (1853-1877); Sigur Lusk Kendall (1857-1877); and Benjamin G. Kendall and Catherine Anne Kendall who died in childhood.  Little is known of their lives except that they resided at New Orleans after reaching maturity and never married with the exception of John I. Kendall, who married Mary E. Smith.(The Louisiana Historical Quarterly, Volume 29, No. 2, April 1946, p. 293) 

In January 1846, W.G. Kendall, while a resident of New Orleans, purchased a fifty-acre tract of land at Ocean Springs, Jackson County, Mississippi in Section 30, T7S-R8W with 800 feet fronting on the Bay of Biloxi from A.H. Donaldson.  On this beautiful, high ground facing Deer Island to the south, he built a residence, icehouse, small cemetery, and school.  In 2006, this property is divided and owned primarily by G. Dickey Arndt, William Mitchell, John White, and Donald Scharr.  It is bounded on the north by Shearwater Drive on the west by the Shearwater Pottery, and the south by the Bay of Biloxi and on the east by the Blossman Estate.

            In order to educate his children and probably those of his neighbors, Kendall built a schoolhouse just northeast of his residence.  According to George .E. Arndt Jr. (1909-1994), who resided on the former schoolhouse lot, the octagonal shaped building had a hewn log base with each side about eight feet in length.  The structure was twenty feet across the middle.  In 1938, Arndt added a bedroom and kitchen, and lived in it until he built his present edifice in 1950.  Hurricane Camille destroyed the Kendall "schoolhouse" in 1969.  The George E. Arndt Jr. place was destroyed in late August 2005 by Hurricane Katrina when possessed by G. Dickey Arndt, the son and heir of George E. Arndt Jr.

 

THE SHANNONDALE SCHOOL

            In the springs of 1886, S.L. Boyers Jr. taught a private school at Shannondale, the large stock and fruit farm of Dr. A.H. Shannon, which was situated east of Ocean Springs, in Sections 21 and 22, T7S-R8W.  Mr. Boyers received a salary of about $20 per month..  The Shannondale school was attended by the four children of Dr. A.H. Shannon (1831-1906) and Lucy Irwin Shannon (1838-1909+);            

lucy Irwin Shannon was the daughter of John Larson Irwin II (d. October 22, 1867) and Lucy W. Irwin (1803-1884).  Her paternal grandparents were John Larson Irwin and Martha (Patsy) Mitchell (1793-1831) who wedded in May 1819.  John Larson Irwin was Speaker of the Mississippi Legislature and is remembered for his acrimonious encounter with Seargent S. Prentiss.(JXCO, Ms. School Records-1886, JXCO, Ms. Archives-Pascagoula, Ms. and The Louisiana Historical Quarterly, 1946, pp. 292-293) 

           Fountain E.P. Shannon (1836-1883), Dr. Shannon's brother, and L. A. Matthews Shannon (d. 1883), his spouse, also resided at Shannondale.  They had come to Ocean Springs from their family homestead five and one-half miles north of Nashville, Tennessee several days prior to Thanksgiving Day of 1882.(Shannon, 1953, p. 1) 

           Mrs. L.A. Shannon was the daughter of the Reverend H. Matthews of the Tennessee Conference of the Methodist Church.  It was only natural that they become ardent members of the local Methodist community.  Mr. Shannon was the steward trustee and Sunday school superintendent, and was proactive in the erection of a public hall use by a Lodge of the Knights of Honor and Temperance.  Unfortunately, he and his wife died within twenty-four hours of each other on August 2nd and 3rd, 1883, following a brief illness.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, August 17, 1883, p. 1)           Fountain E.P. Shannon’s six children were: Lizzie M. Shannon (1872-1899+), Ida L. Shannon (1874-1899), Harry L. Shannon (1878-1899+), Lucy I. Shannon (1879-1899+), Mary K. Shannon, and Louis F. Shannon ?(see JXCO, Ms. Chancery Court Cause No. 693-March 1897).

 THE LYNCH ACADEMY

 

Lynch Academy and sign

          Lynch Academy and marker-The Lynch Academy, a private school, was located on the northwest corner of Jackson Avenue and Porter Street.  James Lynch (1852-1935), an Irish schoolmaster, lived here, taught school, and also managed a dry goods and grocery store.  Mr. Lynch served as an Alderman and later Town Clerk from 1917-1929.  In the image, note the US Highway 90 sign.  In September 2006, workmen in the employ of Brad Lemon, a resident of 509 Ward Avenue discovered a small concrete marker with the designation: LYNCH ACADEMY 1890-1916 inscribed into its surface.  The Lemon house was built circa 1928 by P.J. Wieder (1887-1985).  It is not known who made the Lynch Academy marker or how it got to the Wieder home on Ward Avenue.  Courtesy of  Ray L. Bellande Historic Ocean Springs Archives (HOSA).

  

Wieder House and the Lynch Academy marker

            In September, I received a telephone call from Brad Lemon, retired businessman and former City alderman.  Brad and spouse, Terri Ginn Wyser Lemon, reside at 509 Ward Avenue in the 1928 Philip Jacob Wieder House.  Brad was excited to relate to me that after McClain Tree Service had removed a four-foot diameter, pin oak felled during Katrina of late August 2005, that Johnny Harris and Billy Ray Dunning, while refurbishing his shed damaged by the fallen oak tree, had discovered a small, concrete marker buried within its shallow root system.  Upon washing the soil from the marker, clearly visible was: LYNCH ACADEMY  1890-1916.  The Lynch Academy marker is 21 ¼ inches in length and 15 inches wide.(Brad Lemon, September 20, 2006)

          Brad Lemon acquired the P.J. Wieder House in October 1996, from H. Michael Stockman Jr.  The home had been in the Wieder family until August 1959, when P.J. Wieder (1887-1985) conveyed it to Frances Fried.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 1099, p. 209 and JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 191, pp. 43-47)

Philip J. Wieder was the son of Gregoire Wieder (1849-1899) and Dora Armbruster (1848-1924).  His parents were both born in the Alsace-Lorraine region of France-Germany and arrived at Ocean Springs circa 1875.  The Wieder children were: Joseph A. Wieder (1877- 1960), Adolph Wieder (1879-1931), Frank Wieder (1881-1954), Philip J. Wieder (1887-1985), Mrs. Henry (Mary) Hovelmeier (1890-1986), and Mrs. I.P. (Lena) Carver (1875-1931).

Circa 1925, Philip J. Wieder married Mary Choyce Groves Rouse (1895-1952) of Vancleave.  Their children were:  Philip J. "Jackie" Wieder Jr. (1926-1993) and Dixie Ann W. Gautier (b. 1929).  P.J. Wieder came from an industrious family of carpenters and tradesmen.  In addition to his building skills, he was one of our pioneer auto mechanics.  He and Claude M. Engbarth (1893-1967) built and opened a Ford sales and motorcar repair garage, known in recent times as Mohler’s Tidy Car, on Government and Cash Alley in 1920.  In April 1922, Wieder and Engbarth dissolved their partnership, but P.J. Wieder continued his garage and repair business on Government Street and Cash, until September 1926, when he built a small gas station and associated garage building just west of his original garage.  The new operation was called the Weider Service Station.  Mr. Wieder sold Texaco products.  Phil Wieder also had a coal yard on the property.  The Jackson County Times of September 18, 1926, announced that:

           

Phil Wieder has opened his new auto repair and oil station near his former business place.  He carries a line of auto accessories and tires.  Phil is a good mechanic and should do well in his new place. 

 

The old Wieder Art-Deco garage is extant at 1019 Government Street and owned by Silvergirl LLC, a Jeff and Sibyl G. Sauls enterprise.  They acquired the property from Sam Cvitanovich in March 2006.  During the summer of 2006 refurbishment began, but has since been halted.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 1406, p. 763) 

It is not known, if Philip J. Wieder attended the Lynch Academy, but he was the appropriate age to have been a student there.  Did Mr. Wieder make the Lynch Academy marker or rescue it from the property after it was demolished?   It with other local artifacts should be kept for the future City Museum, which will be created someday from a designated space on the second floor of the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center.

 

The Lynch Academy

Old timers still remember when Irish immigrant, James Lynch (1852-1935), had a small mercantile business and private school on the northwest corner of Porter and Jackson Avenue.  To the south, on the opposite corner, was the charming 1890s Artesian House, which was erected by Alfred E. Lewis (1862-1933), who earned the moniker, “The Artesian Prince”, for his generosity in providing free water for fighting fires and public drinking fountains, from his private water system, the first at Ocean Springs. (Bellande, 1994, p. 76)  

           

James Lynch

            In early December 1896, James Lynch advertised his private school in The Ocean Wave follows:

 

Preparatory School

To the general school instructions already offered, I will add a course of elementary classics and French, Algebra and Geometry, Stenography and Typewriting, as a preparatory for college or commercial studies. 

For particulars apply to James Lynch,

Jackson Avenue

Ocean Springs, Mississippi

           

            James Lynch (1852-1935), the schoolmaster, was himself Irish, probably a native of County Cavan, Eire. He and his mother, Mary Murphy (1807-1897), lived on the northwest corner of Porter and Jackson in close proximity to another family of Hibernian origin, eastern neighbors, the Jerimiah J. O’ Keefe (1859-1911) family.  Mrs. Murphy, a native of County Cavan, Ireland, expired during a yellow fever breakout during the summer and fall of 1897.  Her death was recorded as August 21, 1897.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, August 27, 1897)  

Mr. J.J. O’Keefe’s daughter, Mary Cahill O’Keefe (1893-1980), who would establish herself as an excellent educator of the French and English languages in the school systems of Shreveport and Monroe, Louisiana, and at Biloxi, and Ocean Springs, Mississippi, was an attendee of the Lynch Academy.  Miss O’ Keefe became Superintendent of public schools at Ocean Springs in 1929, and held this position until 1945.  She was also the first woman appointed to the Board of Trustees of Perkinston Junior College.(The Daily Herald, April 6, 1945, p. 3, c. 6 and Charles L. Sullivan, October 28, 2006)

In the 1890s, Mr. Lynch, in conjunction with The Lynch Academy, was also vending “Dry Goods, Notions, Fancy Groceries, Etc.” from this location.   James Lynch was described as thin and with a long, white beard.  He lived a frugal life and took powdered snuff as one of his few corporal pleasures.(Schmidt, 1972, p. 69)

            Former Mayor and local historian, C.E. Schmidt (1904-1988), paints a vivid image in his description of Master Lynch’s teaching methods, which follows:

 

His curriculum was grounded in the fundamentals of language and ciphering, that is, reading, writing, parsing, and constant drilling tables; addition, multiplication and division, up to the 19th.  Informality was the order. When a lesson was learned, it was “heard”.  If satisfactory, the pupil was advanced; if not he was set down to study it again.

            Discipline carried over from a past age; a slap on the head with a closed book restored order.  The old man’s explosive expletives were something to be avoided.  A wrong answer as to the product of 13 times 16 would draw a thunderous “balderdash”, or if the pupil failed completely, he would likely be assessed as a “confounded mope”.(Schmidt, 1972, p. 69)

           

            Before Mr. Lynch came into possession of this property, it belonged to an Irish lady, Margaret Foy, who may have been his aunt.  Mrs. Foy had acquired it from George A. Cox (1811-1887) in February 1855.  It was described as Lot 10 of Block 26-Culmseig Map of 1854.( Jackson County, Miss. Land Deed Book 1, pp. 184-185) 

            The 1900 Federal Census of Jackson County, Mississippi, indicates that Lynch had an Irish immigrant, Maria J.Galligan (1854-1900+), residing with him.  She was a housekeeper.  It also relates that his birthplace was Louisiana of Irish parentage.  This conflicts with his obituary and other sources which tell of an Irish origin for Mr. Lynch.(The Jackson County Times, July 6, 1935, p. 1)

 

Geiger-Friar House

In 1901, James Lynch was elected alderman from Ward II.  Ironically, his 1903 replacement in this municipal position was Peter Geiger (1858-1923), a German immigrant.  Mr. Geiger was the builder of the Geiger-Friar house, which was originally located on north Washington Avenue, and now rests very near the site of Lynch’s former schoolhouse and store at present day 611 Jackson Avenue.  Mr. Lynch returned to political office in 1917 as city clerk.  He served consecutive terms until replaced by Oscar Joachim (1904-1955) in 1929.(Schmidt, 1979, pp. 133-135)

After James Lynch passed intestate in June 1935, local undertaker, Jeremiah J. “Ben” O’Keefe (1894-1954), who would bury the old school master in the Evergreen Cemetery on Old Fort Bayou, was appointed executor of his estate.  Ben O’Keefe was the father of Jeremiah J. O’Keefe III (b. 1923), who with the guidance of HOSA, saved the Geiger-Friar house from demolition in the late 1980s and had it removed it to Jackson Avenue where Bruce Tolar, local architect, restored the graceful Queen Anne structure to its present glory on the northwest corner of Jackson and Porter.(Jackson County, Miss. Chancery Court Cause No. 5706 and The History of Jackson County, Mississippi, 1989, p. 302)

            In September 1936, Mr. Ben O’ Keefe sold the old Lynch property to Lulie Mae Lockard (1894-1960) andAnnie Kate Lockard (1902-1960) for $525.  They were the daughters of James E. Lockard (1862-1951) andCatherine Thompson Lockard (1868-1954), early 20th Century settlers of Vancleave.  Mr. Lockard had come to Vancleave with his family in 1901, to work in the L.N. Dantzler Lumber Company commissary.  Intelligence, hard work, and good fortune rewarded young Lockard, and he soon became a very prominent citizen of the Bluff Creek region and Jackson County.  He was active in local commerce and had extensive timber land and turpentine holdings.  Lockard, once owned several coastal schooners active in the New Orleans-Vancleave charcoal trade.(Lockard, August 1998 and JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 69, p. 364)   

            Lulie May Lockard was born at Meridian, Mississippi.  She taught school at Birmingham, Alabama for over thirty years.  Miss Lockard expired here in November 1960.  Her remains were returned to Vancleave for internment.(The Daily Herald, November 26, 1960, p. 2)

By 1947, Miss Annie K. Lockard had married a Mr. T.P. Lord and resided in Spring Hill, Alabama.  She sold her one-half interest to her sister, Lulie Mae Lockard, in June 1947.  A week later, Lulie Mae Lockard  conveyed the northwest corner of Porter and Jackson, a lot with 200 feet fronting on Porter and 144 feet on Jackson to Neville Byrd(1892-1971).(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 97, p. 157 and Bk. 98. p. 102) 

            Conversations with several senior citizens reveal that the two-story Lynch residence cum store and school were demolished shortly after his demise in the late 1930s.  It is very probable that during the final years of the Great Depression, the lumber was sold for a profit and property taxes reduced with the absence of a structure.(J.K. Lemon and Magaret Seymour Norman, August 1998)

 

Susie Vaughan

 In June 1897, Miss Susie Vaughan requested the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to rent her the upper floor of the public school, for the purpose of teaching a private school.  Her request was declined, but a counter proposal was made Miss Vaughan by the Board to let the first floor of the school for $2.00 per month.(TOS, Minute Bk. Sept. 19, 1892 to Dec. 11, 1899, p. 162)

 

1897-1898

Trustees of the Ocean Springs Public School met in early June 1897, to establish a permanent high school.  The trustees declared that Q.D. Sauls of Purvis, the principal of the school will be graded, a charter obtained, and the school made ready for opening in September.( The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, "Ocean Springs Locals", June 4, 1897).

 

             The 1897-1898 school session faculty was composed of: Q.D. Sauls, principal; Lulu Haviland Clark (1880-1972), Florence E. Morrow (1868-1936), and Susie Willis Vaughan (1869-1962).

 

The Ocean Springs High School under the management of Professor Q.D. Sauls was lauded as “one of the most through and efficient schools in this section.  The best  method of teaching are observed and the course of study embraces a teacher’s course and a business college department.  The school opened on September 6th and closed May 22, 1898.(The Biloxi Herald, July 31, 1898, p. 8)

The 1897-1898 public school year at Ocean Springs began in crisis.  Ocean Springs and the immediate area were under quarantine due to an outbreak of fever.  The infectivity had started at Ocean Springs in August 1897.  It was initially believed that the more than five hundred cases at Ocean Springs were dengue fever and that it had originated at Ship Island.  Dr. Olliphant, president of the Louisiana Board of Health, in his official report declared the contagion as a mild type of dengue fever.  His declaration was later reinforced by Colonel R.A. VanCleave (1840-1908), who was quoted by The Pascagoula Democrat-Star on September 17, 1897, as follows:

 

     I have been through the yellow fever epidemics of 1875 and 1878 and according to my experience and observation, no yellow fever exists or has exited in Ocean Springs.

 

In Jackson County, two facilities were established for quarantine purposes.  A detention camp, called "Camp Fountainbleau", was built nine miles east of Ocean Springs, and the Round Island Quarantine Station off Pascagoula was designated a place to receive refugees arriving from infected places.(The Ocean Springs Record, June 27, 1996, p. 16)

      Naturally, the Yellow Fever paranoia delayed the commencement of the school year at Ocean Springs.  In mid-October 1897, the Ocean Springs High School management announced that the facility would open soon.  A month later the public school remained closed, although the private schools of the town were operating efficiently.  By late November, preparations to open the public school had commenced and on November 26th at 9:00 a.m. with 119 pupils in attendance.  Professor Q.D. Sauls (1870-1909+) was established as principal with Miss Florence Morrow (1868-1936) and Miss Susie Vaughan (1869-1962) as assistants.  R.A. VanCleave (1840-1908) was president of the School Board and was ably assisted by trustees:  F.M. Dick (1857-1922), B.F. Joachim (1853-1925), F.J. Lundy (1863-1912), and E.M. Westbrook (1858-1913).(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, October 15, 1897, p. 3, November 12, 1897, p. 3, November 26, 1897, p. 3, December 3, 1897, p. 3)  

By the Christmas Holiday of 1897, the Ocean Springs High School faculty had made a favorable impression on the community with their efforts to improve academic standards in the classroom.  Almost 150 students were at school for the Yule Tide recess.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, December 24, 1897, p. 3)

Enrollment in the Ocean Springs High School reached 160 pupils in mid-January 1898.  Mr. Sauls was active in recruiting scholars from areas outside of Ocean Springs.  L.R. Bond, a resident of Bond Station on the Gulf & Ship Island Railroad, was one of these students.  Professor Sauls also acquired a janitor for the school buildings at this time.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, January 14, 1898, p. 3 and January 28, 1898, p. 3)

With the rapidly increasing school population, Professor Sauls hired Miss Lulu Haviland (1880-1972).  She joined the faculty in January 1898.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, January 28, 1898, p. 3)

By the end of January 1898, school enrollment had reached 180.  Miss Florence Morrow had to relocate her class to one of the Westbrook cottages across the lawn from the schoolhouse.  The student population was approaching two hundred by early February and reached two hundred in March 1898.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, January 28, 1898, p. 3, February 11, 1898, p. 3, and March 18, 1898, p. 3)

The closing exercises for the 1897-1898 Ocean Springs High School were held   mid-June 1898.  There were seven grades in the school from which representative scholars gave recitations and essays.  Both the morning and evening functions were very well attended indicating that a larger meeting hall was necessary for public assembly.  Attorney W.H. Maybin, Biloxi’s noted poet and public speaker, addressed the audience after his introduction by R.A. VanCleave (1840-1908), School Board president.  Mrs. Minor was in charge of all music programs at the affair.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, June 17, 1898, p. 3)

Professor Sauls held a summer session at Ocean Springs, in July 1898.  He was highly solicited by the town to teach summer classes.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, June 24, 1898, p. 3)

 

1896-1897 Teacher showcase

Florence E. Morrow

            Florence E. Morrow (1868-1936) was born at Enterprise, Clarke County, Mississippi on May 24, 1868, one of four children of William Morrow and Sarah Bull (1844-1916).  Mrs. Sarah B. Morrow was a native of Millidgeville, Georgia.  Some of Miss Morrow’s siblings were: Maud Ozell Morrow (1874-1952) and Percy Morrow, an employee of the L&N Railroad.(The JXCOT, August 5, 1916 and Bradford-O’Keefe Funeral Records Bk. 22, p. 260)

Miss Morrow and Alice Bull (d. 1895), probably a cousin, came to the Mississippi coast as schoolteachers from Grand Bay, Alabama.  The young educators may have taught at Pascagoula in 1887-1888, as they interviewed for positions here in early September 1887.   Miss Bull was the schoolmistress at the Mt. Pleasant School in 1894.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, September 9, 1887, p. 3 and The Biloxi Herald, May 26, 1894, p. 1))

            Florence E. Morrow began her teaching career at Ocean Springs in the early 1890s.  She taught primarily the kindergarten and first grade classes.  Miss Morrow was living in the cottage next to the Fire Hall in December 1893.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, December 8, 1893, p. 3)  By April 1915, she was a resident of Jackson Avenue where she raised delicate, lovely roses of various colors in her front yard.(The Ocean Springs News, April 29, 1915, p. 3)  One of the highlights of the school year for her young pupils was the promenade to the local drugstore for an ice cream treat shortly before summer recess began.(The JXCOT, May 28, 1921, p. 3)

            Miss Florence Morrow retired from the classroom circa 1933.  She expired on July 20, 1936, the result of a cerebral hemorrhage.  Her corporal remains lie in the Bull-Morrow family plot at the Evergreen Cemetery on Old Fort Bayou.(The JXCOT, July 25, 1936, p. 1)       

 

1898-1899

            Opening exercises for the Ocean Springs High School were held in early September 1898.  The children sang and Jackson County School Superintendent D.D. Cowan, School Board president, R.A. VanCleave, and Principal Sauls addressed the pupils and audience.  Professor Quilla D. Sauls was endowed with a school staff composed of: Florence Morrow, primary; Clara Robbins, asst. in the grammar school; Leila May Smith, asst. in primary and special elocution; Daisy Allen, librarian; Mrs. E.I. Switzer, special art courses, drawing, oil painting, crayon work, and photography; Mrs. H.H. Minor, music instructor in piano, mandolin, and guitar; and James Clark, janitor.  School trustees in attendance were F.M. Dick (1857-1922) and F.J. Lundy (1863-1912).  Miss Clara Robins and Miss Leila May Smith were boarding with Mrs. E. Bradford on Porter Avenue.(The Pascagoula Democrat Star, August 12, 1898, and  September 9, 1898, p. 3)

            One of the salient features of Professor Sauls school system was the daily morning assembly held in the Firemen’s Hall adjacent to the schoolhouse.  “America”, the national song, was usually sung.  The opening assembly of the 1898-1899 school session was very special to Mr. Sauls as the student body represented by Josephine Joachim (1884-1927) presented him with a silver water pitcher.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, September 16, 1898, p. 3)

            By mid-October 1898, one hundred ninety-five students were in attendance at the Ocean Springs High School, which caused Quiila D. Sauls to find additional classroom space in the Knights of Pythias Hall on Washington Avenue.  Professor Saul was lauded for his determined efforts to continuously increase enrollment.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, October 7, 1898, p. 3 and October 14, 1898, p. 3)

Several students from the area north of Fort Bayou boarded in town for the fall term.  Lyman Bradford (1884-1906), son of Sherwood Bradford (1838-1922) of VanCleave, resided with Mrs. Carter on DeSoto Avenue.  Minnie Richardson of the Fort Bayou community stayed at Mrs. Wilcox’s place on Porter.  In mid-October 1898, Miss Richardson was selected to replace Miss Daisy Allen as librarian, when Miss Allen relocated to Scranton.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, September 16, 1898, p. 3, October 7, 1898, p. 3 and October 14, 1898, p. 3)

 

Professor Quilla D. Sauls

Quilla D. Sauls (1870-1909+), former Superintendent of the Purvis High School,  came to Ocean Springs in 1897, the same year that he married his spouse, Belle Caraway, the daughter of W.A. Caraway (1834-1909) and Rosanna M. Caraway (1838-1903) of Purvis, Lamar County, Mississippi.  The Caraways were married in April 1856, and had parented eleven children.  Mrs. Saul’s brother was Dr. C.H. Caraway, also of Purvis.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, April 1, 1898, p. 3 and April 6, 1900, p. 3, and June 4, 1897, p. 3)

In July 1897, Professor Sauls was lauded as one who “combines energy and business capacity with high qualifications as a teacher, and success is a natural result of his efforts”.(The Biloxi Herald, July 31, 1897, p. 8)

In December 1897, the Sauls family rented the Arndt Cottage, on Jackson Avenue.  Here their daughter, Lucille Sauls, came into the world in March 1898.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, December 3, 1897, p. 3) 

C.E. Schmidt in Ocean Springs French Beachhead, wrote that "Q.D. Sauls was a man of vision, possibly far ahead of his time.  He had a broad concept of a city high school and looked beyond horizons for the student body.(Schmidt, 1972, p. 65)

At the time of Professor Sauls advent here, the public school consisted of a two-story red frame building located at the rear of the firehouse operated by the Ocean Springs Fire Company No. 1, on the east side of Washington Avenue between Porter and Joseph Street.  He was industrious and aggressive in his campaign to educate the children of this region.  From an enrollment of 114 in 1897, Sauls saw the local school population explode to 384 students by the 1900-1901 school session.(ibid., p. 65)

In November 1898, hosted the Ocean Springs High School literary society.  Walter Clark, president, Mamie Davis, vice president, and Sadie Davis, secretary.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, November 14, 1898, p. 3)

During the summer recess, Professor Sauls was involved with teacher education.  In July 1899, he taught at the State Normal held in Biloxi where he delivered lectures in history and geography.  Miss Florence E. Morrow (1868-1936) attended the session and was the house guest of Dr. E.R. Bragg and spouse, former residents of Ocean Springs.

(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, June 30, 1899, p. 3)

In the summer of 1900, Quilla D. Sauls planned a similar training session at the Ocean Springs High School after the cessation of the Winter Term.  He advertised his intentions as follows:

 

TEACHERS’ TRAINING COURSE OF

OCEAN SPRINGS HIGH SCHOOL

            Opens annually with the close of the winter term of the county public schools, prepares teachers for the Spring examinations, gives to those who have a certificate a review in the higher branches and commercial classes, and aids teachers, generally, in obtaining licenses for teaching and securing better schools and higher salaries.

            We are prepared to duplicate prices of board and tuition offered by other institutions, and we offer special advantages in library and laboratory facilities and commercial courses.

            For further information, full particulars and large catalogues, address to Q.D. Sauls, Ocean Springs, Miss.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, January 19, 1900, p. 3)

 

Professor Sauls and his family moved from their cottage on Porter to reside with some of the school boarders at the Artesian House during the 1900-1901 school term. The Artesian House was situated on the southwest corner of Jackson and Porter diagonally opposite the J.J. O’Keefe boarding house. The Sauls rented their Porter Street home to H.H. Richardson (d. 1906) and his spouse of Chicago who were wintering here.  Mr. Richardson had Gregoire Wieder (1849-1899) erect his cottage at present day 605 Porter in 1895.  He sold it to Belle Caraway Sauls (1877-1904+) in May 1898.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, November 9, 1900, p. 3 and JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 19, p. 75)

In 1904, when the Sauls family was selling their house on Porter, it was advertised in The Progress as follows:

 

FOR SALE

The Richardson Cottage

Q.D. Sauls-Arcola, Louisiana

One of the neatest and best built cottages in town, on a large lot bounded by Porter and Martin Avenue in a desirable locality of Ocean Springs.

 

William Sheppard VanCleave (1871-1938) purchased the house from the Professor Sauls in May 1904.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 28, pp. 115-116)  Mr. VanCleave, a local merchant, had married Eudora Casey (1876-1950) in a double wedding ceremony at the Ocean Springs’ Methodist Church on December 28, 1897.  Miss Sara (Sallie) VanCleave (1876-1934), his sister, married Dunkling Felix Reid.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, January 7, 1898, p. 3)

The Sauls family relocated to Arcola, Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana.  By 1909, Q.D. Sauls was in the long leaf yellow pine business as a manufacturer and dealer.  He was located at Saw Mill, Old Camp on the Natchez, Columbia & Mobile R.R. near Norfield, Lincoln County, Mississippi. 

 

Fred W. Norwood

Norfield, a sawmill town, was named for Fred W. Norwood (1840-1921) and C.S. Butterfield.  Mr. Norwood, a shoe salesman in Chicago, became involved in the yellow pine lumber business. Circa 1884, he commenced one of the first retail lumberyards in Chicago to merchandise southern pine.  The Norwood-Butterfield outfit contracted to supply Marshall Field of Chicago with enough pine lumber to erect a large warehouse in Chicago.  Their mills south of Brookhaven manufactured the lumber and by 1890, the Norwood-Butterfield Company was one of the largest yellow pine suppliers in Mississippi.(Hickman, 1962, p. 60)

             In June 1896, when James Charnley of Chicago marketed his East Beach home east of his friend, Louis H. Sullivan (1850-1926), the great Chicago architect and writer, Mr. Fred Norwood and spouse acquired it.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 17, pp. 390-391) 

           

1899-1900

             In September 1899, the school trustee met and decided that the 1899-1900 public school term at Ocean Springs, would have a duration of eight months and commence on the first Monday in October.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, September 1, 1899, p. 3)

             The Board of Mayor and Aldermen had budgeted $1752 for the operation and maintenance of the public school.  Itemized, the financial appropriations were scheduled as follows: salaries for white teachers-$1200; salaries for black teachers-$400; Superintendent Cowan’s commission-$62; janitor and supplies-$40; and probable coal bill-$50.(Town of Ocean Springs, Minute Bk. (Sept. 1892 to Dec. 1899), p. 357)

Again, Professor Q.D. Sauls was principal of the Ocean Springs High School.  His assistants were teachers: Florence Morrow, Clara Robbins, and Lelia May Smith; Minnie Richardson, librarian; Mrs. E.J. Switzer, art; and Mrs. H.H. Minor, music.  Mademoiselles Robbins and Smith were boarding with Mrs. Bradford.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, October 6, 1899, p. 3, October 13, 1899, p. 3,  and May 25, 1900, p. 3)

            Miss Susie Vaughan, who had taught in past years at Ocean Springs, found employment at McHenry, Harrison County, Mississippi.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, December 8, 1899)

Miss Morrow had fifty-five pupils in her class and by mid-November 1899, the school enrollment was approaching 200 students.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, October 13, 1899, p. 3, and November 17, 1899, p. 3)

 

Featured Teacher

Minnie Richardson

Miss Minnie Richardson (1879-1952+) lived in the Fort Bayou Community.  She was the daughter of William Richardson (d. ca 1888) and Mary Witt Richardson (1849-1927), a native of Lynnville, Tennessee and the postmaster at Fort Bayou from 1888-1891.  Minnie Richardson married Junius P. VanCleave (1879-1945+), a local merchant, in the Methodist Church at Ocean Springs on August 16, 1904.  They relocated to Laurel, Mississippi in 1914, and eventually settled at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where his brother, Richard S. VanCleave and Robert A. VanCleave II were successful developers.

           

THE 1900 PUBLIC SCHOOL

School Bonds

In early March 1899, the School Trustees asked the town government for $5000 to erect a new public school.  Their request was approved and in mid-April 1899, the Town Council authorized a bond issue worth $5000 for the new public school.  In early May 1899 bond bids were received from Duke M. Farson, the New 1st National Bank of Columbus, Ohio, and the F.R. Fulton Company of Chicago.  The Fulton Company bought the school issued bonds.(TOS Minute Bk.1892 to1899, p. 298, pp. 322-323 and The Pascagoula Democrat-StarApril 14, 1899, p. 3)

 

School Site 

            On April 14, 1899, the citizenry met en masse to select a school building site selection committee.  Ernest E. Clements (1861-1922) was chosen as chairman and Augustin von Rosambeau (1849-1912) was selected as secretary.  Committee members were: George W. Davis (1842-1914), Joseph Kotzum (1842-1915), Thomas W. Grayson (1825-1904), E.M. Westbrook (1853-1913), Thomas R. Friar (1845-1914), and Ross A. Switzer (1875-1914+).  May 1, 1899 was the last day that sealed proposals for the school lot would be received by the committee.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, April 21, 1899, p. 3)

The site chosen by the selection committee for the new Ocean Springs Public School consisted of just over 2 acres of land on the northwest of Porter and Dewey Avenue.  The school tract was acquired by the Town of Ocean Springs, in two purchases.  In June 1899, Joseph Bellande (1819-1907), conveyed a lot for $850, which was 350 feet x 100 feet and bounded on the east be Dewey Avenue and north by the Catholic Church lot.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Book 20, p. 131) 

Also in June 1899, the Bishop of Natchez was paid $300 for the Catholic Church land, the former site of the St. Alphonsus Catholic Church, on the northwest corner of Porter and Dewey Avenue.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 20, pp. 128-130)      

 

1900 Public School

 

The Building

The 1900 Ocean Springs Public School was designed by D. Anderson Dickey of New Orleans.  He was selected by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen in June 1899 and paid $85 for his plans and specifications.(TOS, Min. Bk. 1892 to 1899, p. 333)

     In July 18, 1899, bid contracts for the new schoolhouse were submitted to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, by: T.J. Pittman-$5165; Frank Bourgh-$4995; John Stone-$5872; and W. Markel & Son-$4650.  These bids were rejected by the town council.  New bids were submitted on July 21, 1899, as follows: Frank Bourgh- $4785 and Wm. Markel & Son-$4900.  The final bid of Mr. Bourgh was $3760.  It was accepted in late July 1899, utilizing the architectural plans of Anderson Dickey, with modifications and changes made by a Mayoral appointed building committee, composed of George L. Friar (1869-1924 ), Augustin von Rosambeau (1849-1912), and H.F. Russell (1858-1940).  Some of the changes from the original consideration, were that shingle would be substituted for slate; the interior of the building would not be painted; and all hardware furnishings would be bronze.(TOS, Min. Bk. 1892 to 1899, p. 341-345 and The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, July 28, 1899, p. 3)

            In their regular meeting held in late July, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen set the construction bond of schoolhouse contractor, Frank De Bourgh, at $2000.  It was supported with the signatures of the Davis Brothers, Jerry O’Keefe (1859-1911), and Narcisse Seymour (1849-1931).  B.F. Joachim, Fred Dick, and Oren Switzer were appointed to supervise the construction of the new school.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, August 4, 1899, p. 3)         

 

Frank De Bourgh

The contractor, Frank De Bourg (1876-1954+), was a native of New Orleans and the son of Joseph De Bourgh (1845-1940) and Jane McKay (b. 1853), also from he Crescent City.  Frank followed his father’s trade, carpentry.  He was one of seven children of which four survived into the 1950s: Miss Agnes Mary De Bourg (1878-1954) Leonie De Bourg Lema (1882-1954+), the spouse of Frank W. Lema, and Mae De Bourg Ehlers (1898-1954+), the spouse of Lawrence Ehlers (1898-1954+).(The Daily Herald, April 5, 1954, p. 14)

While Bourg and his crew were erecting the new public school building, work was also taking place on the new Methodist church on Porter and Rayburn.( The Pascagoula Democrat-Star,  November 3, 1899, p. 3)

            In early April 1900, the school building inspection committee reported to the town council that the structure was complete with the following exceptions: the front entrance and portal were not painted; the auditorium was not ceiled; the gallery floor had not been laid; the baluster rail for the gallery had not been installed; there was no facia board on the building, nor on the front of the stage; the teacher’s room and laboratory were not ceiled; and some molding was absent from the stairs.   When Frank De Bourg presented the Board a bill for $829 for his work on the public school, it was unanimously rejected.  Alderman Friar motioned that a committee confer with Board Attorney Ford to resolve the situation with Contractor De Bourg.  G.W. Davis, bondsman for Mr. De Bourgh, agreed to complete the school per plans and specifications and present the Mayor and Board of Aldermen with the keys shortly.(TOS Minute Bk. 1900 to1907, pp. 19-21)

            In early May 1900, Mr. De Bourg reported to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen that he had completed the new public school.  He was paid his final fee and released from the contract.(Ibid., p. 28)

 

Completed Building

            In early April 1900, the new public school house on Porter and Dewey was visited by a journalist for The Pascagoula Democrat-Star.  His description of the new structure follows:

 

            The citizens of Ocean Springs can feel proud of their new public school building, which is not surpassed by any in the State.  Each room is well ventilated and lighted, the desks and seats are all of the most comfortable kind, and the blackboards are really a temptation to children to do the most assiduous work in arithmetic and exercises of all kinds.  In addition to the classrooms there is an Odeon built expressly with stage and seats for all school entertainments. The building is three stories frame, with large study hall and wide galleries for use in inclement weather, and has many exits for escape in case of any danger to the little folk.

 

            In 1915, Principal Benjamin H. Ashman described the school building as follows:

                       

            “centrally located on ample grounds.  The classrooms are large and well lighted and are fitted with individual desks.  The assembly room, which was furnished with opera chairs last year, can accommodate about 300.  Five stairways minimize fire dangers.  There are large, well-ventilated toilets and washrooms.(The Ocean Springs News, November 24, 1915, p. 3)

 

The School Bell and other gifts

            In early January 1900, Herman John Nill (1863-1904), a native of New Orleans, who came to Ocean Springs in the late 1880s, with his family and opened a pharmacy on the northwest corner of Porter and Washington, donated a bell for the new public school.  With five children to educate, Mr. Nill had a vested interest in the quality of the local public school system.  A notice of his gift was sent with a missive to the Town Council.   

A portion of his letter related the following:

 

            “feeling interested in the progress of our town school and being in hearty sympathy with its wants and realizing the necessity of a good school bell for the new building, I have hauled there today a 24 inch, 225 pound, steel alloy bell with fixtures complete which I tender to you with the compliments of the day”.(TOS, Minute Bk. 1900-1907, p. 2)

           

In October 1900, the Reverend William C. West (1848-1915), the local Presbyterian minister, and his wife, Harriet N. Day West (1851-1931), requested of the Town Council and were granted the privilege of furnishing the library room as a memorial to their recently departed daughter, Laura T. West (1882-1900).  Miss West passed in early March, the victim of typhoid pneumonia.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, October 26, 1900, p. 3 and March 9, 1900, p. 3)

In May 1911, Theo Bechtel (1863-1931) gave the Civic Federation a flagpole for the school grounds.  An American flag was planned as a later donation.(The Ocean Springs News, May 20, 1911, p. 5)

            In September 1911, Mrs. Mary F. Field, a wealthy, winter resident of East Beach, presented the Ocean Springs public school with a sanitary drinking fountain.  It was placed in the schoolyard in memory of her late husband, Rushton H. Field (1838-1908), a Chicago hotelier. The drinking fountain was the first of its kind to be installed in South Mississippi.  The Civic Federation planned to place one in Marshall Park.(The Ocean Springs News, September 16, 1911, p. 5)

           

1900-1901

In 1900, there were fifty-five school districts, fifty-nine school teachers, and 4,325 educable children in Jackson County.  Superintendent Cowan was paid $687 per year for his efforts.  In 1904, the State legislature passed a bill, which set the remuneration for the County Superintendent of Education at 5% of the total school funds per annum.  His salary could not exceed $1200, nor be less than $700 each year.(WPA, 1936-1937, p. 280)

            The Ocean Springs public school trustees met in June 1900 and appointed Q.D. Sauls, Florence Morrow, and Lelia Mae Smith for the 1900-1901 school term.  Miss Clara Robbins resigned and went to teach in the Biloxi Public School system.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, June 29, 1900, p. 3 and September 21, 1900, p. 3)

 

The 1900 Football Team

            The 1900 football team, which was probably the first organized gridiron squad at the Ocean Springs Public School, was composed of the following players: Fred Turner, center; Horace Culver, quarterback; Walter Clark, left half; Walter Weatherby, fullback; Clyde Madsen (1881-1948), right half; ends-Walton Davis and Ted Helmuth (1884-1975); guards-R. Ramsay, George Pabst (1881-1949), E. Iler, and Morris McClure (1884-1940); tackles-Ernest Pabst (1883-1927) and Arthur Westbrook (1884-1945). 

They beat the Biloxi team on Thanksgiving Day 1899, and soundly defeated a Moss Point squad on the Scranton pitch in mid-January 1900.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, December 8, 1899, p. 3 and January 26, 1900, p. 3)

            At the first “Turkey Bowl” in Ocean Springs, the Biloxi football squad arrived with their fans wearing the colors of their team, on the 1:34 p.m. train.  Ocean Springs was victorious winning the game 10-2.  The correspondent withThe Biloxi Daily Herald who witnessed the contestrelated in his journal that the Ocean Springs team was older, taller, and weighed more than Biloxi’s squad.(The Biloxi Daily Herald, November 30, 1899, p. 8 and December 3, 1899, p. 8)

The Ocean Springs eleven met Biloxi again on Christmas Day 1899, on the pitch of Gulf View Park, an equine racing track, in Biloxi.  After their setback, Biloxi planned to strengthen their team and best Ocean Springs before their home crowd.  Although no score for the contest was found in the Biloxi newspaper, the inference was that Biloxi won by a narrow margin.  Ocean Springs went on to soundly defeated a Moss Point squad on the Scranton football turf in mid-January 1900.  C.N. Travours of Edwardsville, Illinois presented them with a Spaulding football after the contest.(The Biloxi Daily Herald, December 3, 1899, p. 8,  and The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, January 26, 1900, p. 3)

            In the fall of the 1900-1901 school term, the Athletic Club at the Ocean Springs High School unanimously selected Fred Turner, Ernest Pabst, and Walter Davis as officers of the organization.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, October 19, 1900, p. 3)      

 

Old Schoolhouse relocated and School Land returned

            In September 1902, B.F. Joachim, Thomas R. Friar (1845-1914), F.J. Lundy (1863-1912), F.M. Dick (1857-1922), and O.L. Bailey (1870-1938), trustees of the Ocean Springs Public School, conveyed the 1891 public school house lot back to the Ocean Springs Fire Company No.1.( JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 25, p. 308) 

In 1902, the “little” red schoolhouse was moved by E.W. Illing (1870-1947), to a site on the public school land at the northeast corner of Dewey Avenue and Joseph Street.  In February 1902, Mr. E.W. Illing was awarded the moving contract by the Board of Aldermen, after his successful bid of $90.  The former schoolhouse was utilized as a school annex, Town Hall, and City Court until about 1928.(TOS, Min. Bk.1900 to1907, pp. 131-132 and Schmidt, 1972, p. 65)

 

REFERENCES:

Books

Charles William Dabney, Universal Education in the South, Volume I, (The University of North Carolina Press: Chapel Hill, N.C.-1936).

 

Regina Hines Ellison, Ocean Springs, 1892, (Second Edition), (Lewis Printing Services:  Pascagoula-1991), pp. 43-

 

George H. EthridgeMississippi-A History, (The Historical Record Association: Jackson, Mississippi-?).

 

Melanie Earle Keiser, The Ingredients To A Brave Life Entering A Confused World, (Keiser: Bandera, Texas-ca 1960?)

 

Nollie Hickman, Mississippi Harvest: Lumbering in the Longleaf Pine Belt (1840-1915)(The Paragon Press: Mobile, Alabama-1962)

 

Dr. Jessie O. McKeeMississippi, A Portrait of an American State, (Clairmont Press: Montgomery, Alabama-1995).

 

C.E. Schmidt, Ocean Springs French Beachhead, (Lewis Printing Services:  Pascagoula-1972), pp. 92-94.

 

The History of Jackson County, Mississippi, “Cowan Family”, (The Jackson County Genealogical Society: Pascagoula, Mississippi-1989).

 

WPA FOR MISSISSIPPI HISTORICAL DATA-JACSON COUNTY, (State Wide Historical Project: 1936-1937).

 

Journals

The Biloxi Herald, “Vancleave News’, May 26, 1894.

The Biloxi Herald, “Latest City News”, July 31, 1897.

The Biloxi Daily Herald, “Local and Personal”, November 30, 1899.

The Biloxi Daily Herald, “Local and Personal”, December 3, 1899.

The Daily Herald, “Ocean Spings”, April 15, 1922.

The Daily Herald, “Ocean Springs Shows Growth”, October 27, 1925.

The Daily Herald, “Mrs. Cassandra Lowd Dies”, August 18, 1937.

The Daily Herald, “Miss Bourg Buried”, April 5, 1954.

The Jackson County Times“Mrs. Sarah Morrow Dead”, August 5, 1916.

The Jackson County Times“Fierce Fire Does Heavy Damage”, November 18, 1916.

The Jackson County Times“Asleep In Jesus”, April 27, 1918.

The Jackson County Times“Local and Personal”, May 28, 1921.

The Jackson County Times“Miss Florence Morrow Taken By Death”, July 25, 1936.

The Ocean Springs News, “Local News”, May 20, 1911.

The Ocean Springs News, “Local News”, September 16, 1911.

The Ocean Springs News, “Local News”, April 29, 1915.

The Ocean Springs News, “Schools Here Are Doing great Work”, November 24, 1915.

The Ocean Wave, “Preparatory School”, December 5, 1896.

 

1870

The Star of Pascagoula“Public Meeting of the School Patrons of Ocean Springs”, November 7, 1874.

The Star of Pascagoula“May Day at Ocean Springs”, May 8, 1875.

The Star of Pascagoula“In Memoriam”, November 20, 1875.

 

1880

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star“Ocean Springs High School”, September 30, 1881.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Meeting of Jackson County Teachers”, May 16, 1884.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, February 19, 1886.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Local News”, September 9, 1887.

 

1890

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, May 15, 1891.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, September 11, 1891.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, November 13, 1891.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, January 8, 1892.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals, March 11, 1892.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Local News”, November 3, 1893.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Local News”, November 10, 1893.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Local News”, November 17, 1893.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Local News”, December 1, 1893.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Local News”, December 8, 1893.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Local News”, March 9, 1894.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Local News”, November 16, 1894.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Local News”, November 23, 1894.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Local News”, March 22, 1895.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, May 10, 1895.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, June 6, 1895.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star“Ocean Springs Locals”, May 10, 1895.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star“Ocean Springs Locals”, July 5, 1895.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Jackson County Democratic Primary Election”, July 12, 1895.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, September 13, 1895.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, November 8, 1895.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star “Jackson County (Official) Election Returns”, November 15, 1895.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, November 15, 1895.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, November 29, 1895.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, December 13, 1895.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, January 3, 1896.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, May 1, 1896.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, June 6, 1896.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, September 25, 1896.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, November 27, 1896.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, "Ocean Springs Locals", June 4, 1897.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, October 15, 1897.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, November 12, 1897.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, November 26, 1897.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals, December 3, 1897.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals, December 24, 1897.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, January 7, 1898.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, January 28, 1898.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, February 11, 1898.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, March 18, 1898.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, April 1, 1898.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, June 17, 1898.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, June 24, 1898.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, September 9, 1898.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs High School”, September 16, 1898.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, September 16, 1898.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, September 30, 1898.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, October 7, 1898.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, October 14, 1898.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, November 14, 1898.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, April 14, 1899.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star"Ocean Springs Locals", May 19, 1899.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, June 30, 1899.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, July 28, 1899.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, April 21, 1899.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, August 4, 1899.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, September 1, 1899.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, October 3, 1899.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star,  “Ocean Springs Locals”, November 3, 1899.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star,  “Ocean Springs Locals”, November 17, 1899.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star,  “Ocean Springs Locals”, December 8, 1899.

 

 

1900

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, January 19, 1900.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, January 26, 1900.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, March 9, 1900.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, April 6, 1900.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, April 13, 1900.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, May 25, 1900.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, June 29, 1900.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, October 26, 1900.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, November 9, 1900.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, November 30, 1900.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star,  “Ocean Springs Locals”, September 21, 1901.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star,  “Ocean Springs Locals”, October 19, 1901.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star,  “Ocean Springs Locals”, November 1, 1901.

 

Personal Communication:

Elizabeth Cowan Grishman - April 26, 1994